Aspen girls XC heads to state after surprise regional race; BHS girls in
What was expected to be a close battle turned into a rout for the Aspen High School girls cross country team on Oct. 19 at the regional meet, hosted by D’Evelyn in Denver.
The Skiers ran away from the field to win the Class 3A, Region 1 team title with 63 points, securing their spot in Saturday’s state championship race in Colorado Springs.
“We had a good shot at being one of the four teams to qualify. I thought maybe outside chance we could be top three, and if everything goes the way it should … the kids just ran great,” longtime AHS coach Chris Keleher said Thursday. “It was good to finally put the full team with everyone mostly healthy and they all rose to the occasion. The girls, especially, were so much fun to watch.”
This was the first regional title for Aspen since 2020, when the AHS girls won despite a 1-2-3 finish from Basalt.
Middle Park and Basalt each finished with 86 points, while Colorado Academy was fourth with 94 points. The top four teams qualified as a group for state.
Individually, Delta’s Paige Kehmeier won the girls race in 21 minutes, 1.40 seconds, while D’Evelyn’s Sabrea Schulte was second in 21:18.7. Basalt junior Isabella Moon was third (21:28) and Aspen freshman Annabelle Case was fourth (21:41.4).
Also landing a top-10 finish were Aspen juniors Ela Stevenson (eighth, 21:56.9) and Julia Diaz (ninth, 21:57.1). Basalt sophomore Caroline Cole was 11th in 21:59.5.
“It was kind of shocking to put three in the top 10,” Keleher admitted.
The Longhorn girls will compete at state Saturday with a full team, but will be doing so without 2023 graduates Katelyn Maley and Ava Lane, who are both now racing at the collegiate level (Princeton and Pittsburgh, respectively). Maley narrowly finished runner-up as a senior last fall in her bid for a three-peat. She won the individual title in both 2020 and 2021, while Basalt’s Sierra Bower (now at Furman) won in 2019.
In the regional boys race, Coal Ridge (64 points) edged D’Evelyn (68) for the win, followed by Moffat County (79) and Delta (108).
While they came up short of qualifying as a team, Aspen freshman Jack Diaz (Julia’s younger brother) qualified for state individually by finishing 14th in 18:51.4. For Basalt, both senior Owen Lambert and sophomore Towler Scott qualified. Lambert was third overall in the regional race (17:51.8), not far off the pace set by winner Owen Gifford of Moffat County (17:36.2) and runner-up Dallin Karren (17:40.3), a senior at Coal Ridge. Scott was seventh in 18:09.
Saturday’s state championship is held at the Norris Penrose Event Center. The 3A boys are scheduled to run at 12:20 p.m., while the 3A girls will follow at 1:40 p.m.
Broadcaster Jim Williams of KSPN and KNFO is leaving the valley after eight years of serving as the voice of Aspen, Basalt and Roaring Fork high school’s sports.